Kyle Dufour, one of the “original” Austinites, is an attorney at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. He is an advocate for children and families in tough situations and strives to live his faith within the responsibilities that present themselves each day.
Kyle also serves in other capacities as an assistant youth minister at St. Louis Catholic Parish and a YCP board member. It’s clear to see that his passion and dedication to his faith directs all of his work and life, and is an excellent example of what it means to work in witness for Christ.
YCP Austin: Kyle, tell us a little about your career, and how you got where you are today.
Kyle: I never thought I would become a lawyer – it was always Plan B. I come from a family with a lot of lawyers, so after college it looked like the right choice. I really enjoyed law school at St. Mary’s University and ended up interning with the city prosecutor’s office and in the DA’s office in Travis County. It was a really exciting experience, and I knew I wanted to work in that environment again after law school. However, after interviewing, I took a job in oil and gas for a couple of years. I was laid off and my next job was in line with my original plan. I’ve always believed being laid off was God’s 2×4-to-the-face-wake-up-call to do work I would enjoy.
Now, I’m back in Austin doing legal assistance for juvenile justice stakeholders, looking at things like community programs for kids and enforcing ethics and discipline for juvenile officers. It requires a lot of tough skin to be able to talk about these things and find the best solutions for the kids, family, and everyone else involved.
YCP Austin: Tell us about your spiritual journey. How have you grown in your faith?
Kyle: Well, I was raised Catholic, but I gradually fell away from my faith during middle and high school, so by college my faith life was basically non-existent. While I was in law school, the seeds were planted for coming back. I was living with my aunt and uncle then in San Antonio, and my aunt is very strong in her faith. Sometimes I would get home late after a night out with friends, and my aunt would be on her way out at 2 a.m. to go to adoration. That intrigued me.
During my last year of law school, I realized that there were a lot of changes coming up in my life. With the stress of a few things weighing me down, I wound up at daily Mass one day – and I hadn’t been to Mass in years! I slowly started making it a part of my day, and started listening to EWTN on the radio. I really started to realize that I had not been living life as I should.
I had what I would call a St. Paul conversion when I went back to confession for the first time in about 10 years. It was an an amazing experience – I could feel the Holy Spirit moving through me, like floodgates of peace were flowing over me. I was beginning a new chapter in my life in a lot of ways, and I started learning as much as I could about our faith. I was “building a case for Catholicism,” if you will.
YCP Austin: What role has your faith played in your professional and personal life?
Kyle: Throughout my career, I think the most valuable lesson I learned about living my faith in the workplace was from one of my co-workers. I was really on fire for my faith early in my career, to the point it would turn some people off. My colleague took me aside and let me know that I was getting a negative reaction and it wasn’t good for the dynamics of our office, something I had not considered. He showed me the importance of being more diplomatic with my faith, by engaging others and showing my faith with actions rather than strong words that turn people away.
I continue to make sure that God is a part of my everyday life, by taking time to go to daily Mass, putting a meeting reminder in my phone to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, and keeping the Divine Mercy image in my office to remind me of Christ’s presence. My legal assistant noticed it, and that inspired her to put an image out too!
As a lawyer, oftentimes conversations amongst my colleagues and mentors can run contrary to what we believe as Catholics. Things like the gay marriage decision and transgender issues are pretty hot topics right now, and lawyers – especially in Austin – tend to lean pretty far left. Sometimes in those conversations, I can tell that God is telling me, “don’t let that go unmatched.” It’s been good to discuss those issues with both a legal and Catholic perspective, and I hope that I am giving my co-workers some thoughts to consider and they are not discounting them with preconceived notions they might have about Catholics and our beliefs.
YCP Austin: How do you strive to Work in Witness for Christ?
Kyle: I think it’s important to think of Christ carrying the Cross. As professionals, we go into the salt mines everyday. It’s not always glorious, it’s often hard and burdensome. But by carrying our crosses each day, by keeping steady and going forward, we resemble Christ carrying his Cross, and accompany him on his journey.
Sometimes, we can even be like Christ exposed on the Cross, totally vulnerable – and taking it all like a man. That’s very inspiring to me – I’ve never been in that situation, like the martyrs, who lived their faith so strongly that they took all of the blows that were thrown at them by the world.
Some of the saints that I look up to include St. Joseph, with his quiet perseverance in his work, never complaining about what God asks of him; St. Therese, with her Little Way of doing everything out of love; and St. Michael, as a strong warrior for God. I try to find balance between them, by finding the times to be God’s warrior and the times to live a quiet apostolate.
YCP Austin: What advice can you give other young Catholic professionals to strive to Work in Witness for Christ?
I would advise others who are trying to live out their faith to attend the sacraments regularly, and to spend one hour in adoration each week – just sit there and listen to what God has to say. Also, go to the saints! As Catholics, we can appreciate that there are so many different ways we can be called to live just by looking at the different charisms and lives of the saints – and we are called to do it our own way. Also, realize that your faith journey is your own, you will go at your own pace and it’s not a competition. Ultimately, we are all moving forward to Christ.